This Day in Black History: Feb. 11, 1990

Nelson Mandela was released from prison.

Posted: 02/11/2014 12:00 AM EST

Nelson Mandela was behind bars for 27 years before he was released from a South African prison on Feb. 11, 1990. Mandela, who was a rebel and activist, spent almost three decades behind bars for sabotage — a crime and sentencing the world viewed as brash and unfit.

He began serving his sentence after he was arrested on Aug. 5, 1962, and was sentenced to five years in prison on Nov. 7, 1962, for leaving the country without a passport and incitement. Madiba was transferred to the Pretoria Local Prison, the site of capital punishment in South Africa. 

However, Mandela would not be released in five years, two years later on June 11, 1964, Madiba was convicted of sabotage along with Walter Sisulu, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Govan Mbeki, Elias Motsoaledi, Denis Goldberg and Andrew Mlangeni. For that "offense" he received a life sentence in prison and would serve his time in Robben Island, South Africa's strictest prison.

After several years of international pleas for his release, Madiba was the last of the group convicted of sabotage to be released from prison.

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Follow Dominique Zonyéé on Twitter: @DominiqueZonyee.


(Photo: AP Photo/Greg English, File)

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